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A Paris Classic: Harry’s New York Bar

In La Ville-Lumière, where the wine can be cheaper than the water, there are times when we forget that there is something other to drink than the humble grape: I refer you to the classic cocktail. Paris is full to the brim of kitsch cocktail bars popular with les bobos, über-cool joints where the process of whipping together a cocktail has more oomph than the finale of the Cirque du Soleil. But sometimes nothing beats going back to basics. And where better to enjoy the perfect Bloody Mary than under the very roof where it, along with other classic favorites, were invented and have been drunk for 100 years.

Harry’s New York Bar is the oldest cocktail bar in Europe, and first opened minus the ‘Harry’s’ prefix in 1911. It’s since become the darling of Parisians and expats alike, celebrated for its extensive cocktail list, beautifully prepared drinks and excellent service. It sits just five minutes walk from the hustle and bustle of Opéra and, in tribute to their loyal expat clientele, a sign outside reads ‘Sank roo doe noo’ – a phonetic transcription of the bar’s address to help lost and thirsty compatriots find there way there.

A warm greeting from the sweetly smiling hostess and a push through the swinging saloon doors, and I feel like I’ve tumbled into New York in the days before prohibition, when the men wore top hats and women feathers and fur. There’s not such stylish attire now, alas – more button down shirts and loosened ties, but the décor and atmosphere still shimmer of debonair early 20th Century days: smartly adorned bar staff, beautiful dark reddish oak panelling, walls plastered with triangular American state flags and rows upon rows of glittering bottles of all shapes and sizes — alcohols, mixers and syrups, all ready to be whipped up into a perfect cocktail creation. Even the old style hot dog stand on the bar counter pays tribute.

I’d missed lunch, which is the only time they serve anything other than New York style hot dogs; so instead, I sipped mojitos – I’m still une bobo at heart – in the piano bar downstairs and listened blissfully to the jazz pianist work his magic on an upright piano into the small hours.

The lingering taste of that freshly squeezed lime and the memories of old tunes strummed up and down that piano rang long in my ears and carried me on into the night. It’s worlds apart from the outdoor culture of a summer in Paris, but it was lovely to be able to slip back, just for an evening, into old New York.

Harry’s New York Bar
5, Rue Daunou 75002
+33 (0)1.42.61.71.14
Métro: Opéra
Open: Daily, 10.30am – 4am, Piano Bar Tue – Fri, 10pm – 2am, Sat 10pm – 3am

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Written by Kate Ross  for the HiP Paris Blog. All photos by Julien Hausherr; Contact: julienhausherr@hotmail.fr. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

 

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Written by Kate Ross

Kate Ross

Website: Open Up My Eager Eyes

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Posted in Parisian Living, Restaurant Reviews | 8 Comments »

8 Responses to “A Paris Classic: Harry’s New York Bar”

  • It’s a hot day in the States, and I’m wishing I could spend the rest of the afternoon at Harry’s sipping on a bloody Mary. Shoot – you’ve made me thirst. . .Thanks for the reminder of a great place.

  • Shanen says:

    I love these photos. Harry’s is on my list the next time I visit Paris. I’ll admit, I usually do get sucked into the ‘summers in Paris’ sitting outside at cafes, but I like the different-time, different-place feel this place has. And NY hot dogs! :)

  • Abby says:

    We loved going to Harry’s New York Bar during our visit to Paris last August. It was like stepping into a little piece of history.

  • I really want to visit too. It’s on my list for my next stop in Paris! :) -Maggie

  • Sweet Freak says:

    I can’t believe I still haven’t been here. Next time, Harry, it’s a date!

  • little t says:

    I’m usually against doing anything non-French while in Paris, but I absolutely love the sound of this!!

  • Erica says:

    After all these years, I have never been. I guess I must get on over there one of these days. Thanks for the wonderful piece Kate. – Erica

  • Michael Stewart says:

    Very nice piece on Harry’s. It’s been a while since I was last there, but it remains my Parisian home-away-from-home. As a member of the International Bar Flies (IBF), I think of Harry’s as a civilized place for civilized people.

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